Sometimes weather forecasts can be life saving; enabling people to get out of the path of a dangerous storm for example. In the developed world, we receive ample warning of severe weather, but in many developing countries lives and livelihoods are lost in extreme weather.
Rosalind Cornforth, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, was shocked to see this first hand on a visit to Senegal last year. “I saw large ditches criss-crossing villages, where communities lose not just crops but their children, as flash floods carve the ground into ravines of fast-flowing water,” Cornforth says. “If the villagers had warning, children would be called back from the fields in time.”
Cornforth wanted to ensure that the latest climate science was used to make a difference on the ground, so she set up the Africa Climate Exchange (AfClix), to find ways of communicating useful weather data to communities in need. In Senegal, AfClix supported a pilot project, helping meteorologists at the Senegal Met Service provide flood warnings, and relay the alerts via mobile phone to village leaders, who then posted the news on a blackboard and spread the word.
Building on the success of this project, and others from across sub-Saharan Africa, AfClix is now working with people in Sudan, looking at ways of communicating daily rainfall data meaningfully to pastoralists, enabling them to make the best decisions about where to graze their animals, and ultimately easing tension between pastoralists and farmers.
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